Ok, ok, I believe you. You’re not a crackpot. You’re just an outsider, one with a brilliant new idea that would overturn the accepted paradigms of physics, if only someone would just listen.
Here’s the problem: you’re not alone. There are plenty of actual crackpots. We get contacted by them fairly regularly. And most of the time, they’re frustrating and unpleasant to deal with.
If you want physicists to listen to you, you need to show us you’re not one of those people. Otherwise, most of us won’t bother.
I can’t give you a foolproof way to do that. But I can give some suggestions that will hopefully make the process a little less frustrating for everyone involved.
Nobody likes spam. Nobody reads spam. If you send a mass email to every physicist whose email address you can find, none of them will read it. If you repeatedly post the same thing in a comment thread, nobody will read it. If you want people to listen to you, you have to show that you care about what they have to say, and in order to do that you have to tailor your message. This leads in to the next point,
Ask the right people:
Before you start reaching out, you should try to get an idea of who to talk to. Physics is quite specialized, so if you’re taking your ideas seriously you should try to contact people with a relevant specialization.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: your ideas are unique, no-one in physics is working on anything similar.
Here, it’s important to distinguish the problem you’re trying to solve with how you’re trying to solve it. Chances are, no-one else is working on your specific idea…but plenty of people are interested in the same problems.
Think quantum mechanics is built on shoddy assumptions? There are people who spend their lives trying to modify quantum mechanics. Have a beef against general relativity? There’s a whole sub-field of people who modify gravity.
These people are a valuable resource for you, because they know what doesn’t work. They’ve been trying to change the system, and they know just how hard it is to change, and just what evidence you need to be consistent with.
Contacting someone whose work just uses quantum mechanics or relativity won’t work. If you’re making elementary mistakes, we can put you on the right track…but if you think you’re making elementary mistakes, you should start out by asking help from a forum or the like, not contacting a professional. If you think you’ve really got a viable replacement to an established idea, you need to contact people who work on overturning established ideas, since they’re most aware of the complicated webs of implications involved. Relatedly,
Take ownership of your work:
I don’t know how many times someone has “corrected” something in the comments, and several posts later admitted that the “correction” comes from their own theory. If you’re arguing from your own work, own it! If you don’t, people will assume you’re trying to argue from an established theory, and are just confused about how that theory works. This is a special case of a broader principle,
I’m not saying you need to be humble in general, but if you want to talk productively you need to be epistemically humble. That means being clear about why you know what you know. Did you get it from a mathematical proof? A philosophical argument? Reading pop science pieces? Something you remember from high school? Being clear about your sources makes it easier for people to figure out where you’re coming from, and avoids putting your foot in your mouth if it turns out your source is incomplete.
Context is crucial:
If you’re commenting on a blog like this one, pay attention to context. Your comment needs to be relevant enough that people won’t parse it as spam.
If all a post does is mention something like string theory, crowing about how your theory is a better explanation for quantum gravity isn’t relevant. Ditto for if all it does is mention a scientific concept that you think is mistaken.
What if the post is promoting something that you’ve found to be incorrect, though? What if someone is wrong on the internet?
In that case, it’s important to keep in mind the above principles. A popularization piece will usually try to present the establishment view, and merits a different response than a scientific piece arguing something new. In both cases, own your own ideas and be specific about how you know what you know. Be clear on whether you’re talking about something that’s controversial, or something that’s broadly agreed on.
You can get an idea of what works and what doesn’t by looking at comments on this blog. When I post about dark matter, or cosmic inflation, there are people who object, and the best ones are straightforward about why. Rather than opening with “you’re wrong”, they point out which ideas are controversial. They’re specific about whose ideas they’re referencing, and are clear about what is pedagogy and what is science.
Those comments tend to get much better responses than the ones that begin with cryptic condemnations, follow with links, and make absolute statements without backing them up.
On the internet, it’s easy for misunderstandings to devolve into arguments. Want to avoid that? Be direct, be clear, be relevant.